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Judi’s Top 10 greatest movies ‘starring’ New Jersey

(Left Photo by Stephen Lovekin, Middle Photo by Kevin Winter, Right Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
(Left Photo by Stephen Lovekin, Middle Photo by Kevin Winter, Right Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

New Jersey is a popular state to shoot movies in. Our varied landscapes make for great movie locations and it’s close to New York, the production center for many feature films.

But even though lots of movies are filmed here, New Jersey remains in the background in most of them. There are, however, many movies in which New Jersey is actually the “star.”

By that I mean that the New Jersey setting or New Jersey theme figures so prominently in the movie it couldn’t really be set anywhere else; a movie that’s quintessentially New Jersey.

Here’s a list of the top 10 movies (some well known, some more obscure) that star or at least prominently feature our great Garden State.

10. New Jersey Drive – An action/adventure movie about joyriding working class teenagers in Newark.

9. Jersey Boys – The classic saga of the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

8. New Jersey: The Movie – A short film/documentary about the cultural divide between north and south Jersey.

7. Down the Shore – Featuring the late James Gandolfini, the story of a NJ amusement park owner’s dark past.

6. Garden State – Starring Zach Braff, the story of a man who returns to his Jersey hometown when his mom dies.

5. United 93 – The biographical drama about the 9/11 hijacking of one of the flights that originated at Newark (now Newark Liberty) International Airport.

4. The Cartel – Political documentary about the failures of public education in the US, focusing on NJ, which has the highest level of per-pupil spending in the country.

3. Atlantic City – A Woman (Susan Sarandon) aspires to a prosperous career in the gambling industry in NJ’s legendary casino town.

2. Eddie and The Cruisers – A journalist tracks down this typical Jersey Band “just some guys from Jersey” who got their start in a bar in Somers Point.

1. (Tie) Mallrats and Clerks – Although director Kevin Smith’s movies all tend to feature New Jersey, these two are the most Jersey of all.

Mallrats -The travails of two best friends who take a trip to the mall after their girlfriends break up with them.

Clerks – A day in the life of two convenience store clerks, set in Leonardo NJ, and the Kevin Smith movie that started it all.

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